A young Zach Lapidus watches in awe as his babysitter plays away on the family piano, re-creating pieces by Schumann, Handel and more. With an uncontainable fascination, the boy begins begging his parents for piano lessons, eventually having his wish granted at the age of 8.
Fast-forward to today, we now find a 28-year-old Lapidus competing as one of five finalists in the American Pianists Association's prestigious Jazz Fellowship Awards, with the winner to be named the 2015 Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz. As part of this competition, Lapidus visits The Jazz Kitchen this Saturday (Jan. 24th at 8 p.m.), putting on a fully produced, adjudicated public performance to be considered in the judging process for the APA prize.
- C. Mead Jackson
During college Zach Lapidus tickled the ivories frequently in Indy, making a lot of friends and contacts along the way.
A native of Vancouver, Washington, Lapidus attended Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, studying under highly regarded jazz educator David Baker. He remembers this being a particularly pivotal time in his growth as a pianist.
"It was a great environment because you're being pushed by all sides," Lapidus recalls. "You're seeing incredibly talented people around you that teach you things, and there was a good faculty. So I really was able to take a lot of chances and be exposed to a lot of things that I wouldn't have otherwise tried if I hadn't have gone to the school."
- Mark Sheldon
"I think it's just having a support network of people who care about you," Lapidus says of his success. "I think that's the only reason it worked."
During college Lapidus had also started playing in Indianapolis quite often, building some important relationships along the way. With this foundation already established, he decided that after graduation he'd move to Indy, where he could play and teach music rather than get a day job.
From 2008 to 2014, Lapidus made a name for himself as a top-notch jazz pianist in Indianapolis, thanks to the expanse of quality work he put in. Collaborating with Frank Glover, fronting his own personal trio and more, he was able to gain respect from young and old jazz pros alike in just a short time.
"Even though he was really only part of the Indy jazz scene for a couple of years, his impact was immediate," explains David Allee, owner of The Jazz Kitchen. "Zach understands history and isn't afraid to create it. Regardless of this competition's outcome, he will be a force for years to come."
Now living in Brooklyn, Lapidus looks back on his time in Indy with gratitude, aware of the impact it had on his music career. "There's a lot of work of all kinds, so I got to play with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations," he says. Lapidus hopes to create a similar connection for himself in New York.
Today Lapidus humbly attributes the success he's had so far to his friends and family. Without them, he believes he wouldn't be where he is.
"I think it's just having a support network of people who care about you," he says. "I think that's the only reason it worked."
In addition to stopping by Yats for some Cajun cuisine, Lapidus looks forward to visiting with longtime friends in this city he called home for years, hopefully impressing listeners at The Jazz Kitchen while he's here.
For more information on Lapidus' upcoming Indianapolis performance, visit The Jazz Kitchen's website.